This Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings article was written by Oliver Hope, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Tim Burden.
If you didn’t already know, it’s Christmas soon. With the onset of the holidays fast approaching we will inevitably be faced with an absolute barrage of Christmas themed songs and albums. The classics will be dragged back from their eleven months in musical limbo and you will hear everyone blasting out the likes of Wham! and Wizard. Having said that, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings have thrown a beautiful festive offering on the table. The only difference here is that this album is one you actually would want to listen to, rather than being forced to because it’s the festive period and it is ‘the thing to do.’
This is far removed from the Christmas novelty record. Soul and funk music has a long standing tradition in the world of Christmas music, past offerings have included the likes of James Brown, Nat King Cole and Otis Redding. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings have taken their old-school style revival of the soul genre and have securely cemented their place amongst the tradition of soul Christmas songs.
Trying to freshen up the holiday market is a tough act, that’s for sure – there have been Christmas songs every year since the sale of music began. Starting off the album with a song dedicated to the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is a nice touch. More often than not, holidays celebrated by other religions are neglected and often overlooked, so it is rejuvenating to see a Jewish holiday being included in the mixture. The song ‘Ain’t no Chimneys in the Projects’ adds a modern twist to the Christmas classics, bringing in the modern context of people living in poverty. ‘Just Another Christmas Song’ makes fun of Christmas albums as a whole. It is essentially a sly dig at the fact that even the most diehard fans of the holiday season are starting to become tired and lackadaisical when it comes to the shelling out of holiday cheer.
Common classics are included on the album but Jones and her band are able to create a new sound and take on the well-known songs. They no longer feel stale and overplayed, they have a new life; it is modern. In an age where anybody can seemingly sing a classic Christmas song and make money from it, it is enlightening to see someone actually try to create something new. Jones is able to tie together many years of Christmas music from many differing legends and mould them together into one unique sound.
‘It’s a Holiday Soul Party’ would be a stable inclusion into any playlist to brighten up a family Christmas. It takes a modern spin on classics, whilst still respecting the routes from which they came and creates a new vibe. It makes the holidays more fun and that is much needed.
‘It’s a Holiday Soul Party’ is available now via Daptone Records.